Market Report

Less recycling = more waste

Tilburg, August 19th, 2018 

Where we last week brought to your attention the problems there are with waste (outlets) at the moment in the Flanders, Belgium, the FD (Financial Daily) in the Netherlands came with an article about the increase of landfilling waste. In the first 6 months of this year over 130.000 tonnes more of waste went to landfill compared to the same period last year. In that same half year already for 820.000 tonnes an exemption was provided on the landfill ban. In principle landfilling of waste that can be recycled or incinerated is forbidden in the Netherlands, but when made clear that at least 2 incinerations cannot take it in, an exemption is possible. It is a more pragmatic approach than to stick to the rules of landfill limits, as often this will lead to fly tipping and other forms of waste fraud. The reason of the increase in waste is blamed on growth of the economy and the fact that households are recycling less than expected. No word about the import ban of certain streams In China. It is obvious that several low value streams that went before to China to get processed and with processing capacity in Europe non existing, have to be stored now or landfilled.  Some streams are simply not suitable for local incinerators. In the meantime the consequences of the import in China have become visible in the recycling sector. Huge stocks of recycled plastic that only get bigger are waiting for buyers who won’t be found quickly and easily. There is a lot going on in the waste and recycling world at this moment. After several other countries also Taiwan has now decided to close the borders for recycled plastic and ‘mixed paper’ what can be translated as a regular mixed paper grade as well as paper that is mixed with something else. Probably Taiwan will do the same as China which means that next to regular mixed paper also mixed grades with poly coating amongst others will not be welcome anymore. Furthermore the Polish authorities have requested the English EA this week to take back 45 containers loaded with ‘illegal waste’. These containers were stopped in the port of Gdynia and worked out to be loaded with boxes with tins and bottles of detergents etc. The intervention was followed by a big fire last month in Zgierz where presence of English material was detected. The EA indicated that 3 UK companies are investigated with relation to the shipment. And in France the intention is to start taxing plastic packaging that is not recyclable by 2019. This to only have plastic on the market that can be recycled by 2025. That looks like the best and only way. If the idea, to make recyclable plastic 10% cheaper and not recyclable plastic 10% more expensive, will be sufficient to make the necessary turn remains to be seen, but to introduce this kind of legislation is already very courageous. A small light at the end of this last week: Thailand’s import ban is limited for the time being to electrical goods while the intention is to ban all recycled plastic within the next 2 years.  
With all these important market developments we would almost forget that there is still a recovered paper trade going on. Demand remains good for all regular grades, thanks to the lower generation and the good order books of the paper and board mills. Special grades are hard to sell and their volume is increasing while more countries close their borders for grades


that are difficult to process and/or defibre. The boom is in the pre-consumer and overissued grades that are still sought after by China.  We are also approached now for pulp made from lower grades of recovered paper and of course all kinds of grades and (spot) lots of finished paper. Being aware that the European paper and board industry is almost running on full capacity and the absence of idle machines that would be suitable, the search for these kind of availabilities will not be very successful.    

Imports China halved this year

Imports of recovered paper into China were down again in April. As in previous months only half was imported compared to the volume in the same month of April last year: 1,19 million tons. In the first four months of this year, imports totalled to 5,12 million tons, which is 49% less than in the same period of 2017. With now over 12 million tons of import licences issued, using these does not seem to happen rapidly. Not surprising. First there was the big uncertainty about what would become available and when, thereafter orders have to be concluded and shipments arranged. Depending on country/region of export the transition time is than 5 days to 5 weeks. Imports will increase surely in the coming months, unless Chinese buyers are not capable to find sufficient clean grades. Also the import from the USA had put up some barriers. But in  the meantime that situation has been normalized again.

Price indication

Price indications in Europe for low grades of recovered paper, sorted, baled and ex-works are now between € 50 and € 180 per ton. These prices are depending on quality, available volume, region and loaded weight.

Click here for the price chart, with prices of the last 10 years.

The price chart gives an indication of the price of mixed paper in the Netherlands free delivered mill over the last years.  Scrolling over the top of the colums gives the exact price indication in Euro's per ton.
To view the price chart completely, please click and hold on the price chart after opening and move cursor to left or right to see all available years/months